Cornwall Ontario – For true hockey fans the direction the game has been evolving has been a let down. It’s seen in ratings and ticket sale drops. Just look at the players escrow numbers after each season and the tale becomes clear.
The issue for many is the watering down of the game. It’s amazing Don Cherry simply doesn’t explode watching some of the sissified calls and games as they roll along.
The days of paying price to go to the net seem over. It’s a penalty for a D man to clear the net properly and the opposition can essentially get a lot more real estate. Gone are the enforcers and yes, the league did go overboard for a few years. Staged fights have no place in the NHL, but a fast hard hitting game should have a place for the pugilism that kept things honest.
There are players that had careers lasting longer than some today who didn’t wear helmets. Padding and equipment in the day were thin and goalies didn’t wear masks.
Yet today’s momma’s boys crumble under the pressure of this Euro Style hockey that simply isn’t as much fun to watch and turns hockey into a pinball game at times.
While things will never return to Original Six style hockey, and that may be a good thing, the pendulum has swung too far towards figure skating.
Tom Wilson is one of my favorite players. I doubt there’s a team in the league that wouldn’t want him on their squad.
When a Wilson is on the ice it opens space for forwards and keeps D men honest. He delivers a beating when he finishes his checks.
He’s also a 6’4 rarity in a NHL that is seeing the return of players who are below 5’10. There are lots of players below that mark and even on the back end we’re seeing shorter and more mobile and lithe D men. The recipe to that is to physically punish players and make them pay a price. It creates turnovers. It changes the game. Wilson has been a game changer in the series with Pittsburgh.
I’m sure that Sydney Crosby would be as happy as Ovechkin is to have him on his line.
Aston Reese was 4 inches shorter than Wilson. The hit, while tragic in that Reese was injured, was a clean hockey hit. The 3 game suspension clearly was politically motivated; perhaps even catch up for calls missed on Wilson including something questionable during the play prior to the hit.
Clearly Wilson and players like him will be a force moving forward and a remedy for the “Speed Kills” era that we’re now seeing. Players need to be held accountable for stick work and cheap shots and players like Wilson, Radko Gudas, and to a minor degree Alexei Emelin who the Habs heavily missed this season, can keep speedy smurfs a bit more honest.
What do you think NHL fans? Do you like where the league is going or do you miss real hockey?
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